That Time I Had a Pet Squirrel

Once upon a time, my cousin would come to stay with us during fishing season. Our house is only minutes from a creek, so he lived with us off and on for several years. One year while he was with us, there was this unbearable scratching sound coming from our fence.

Our property is surrounded by a giant wooden fence. When you exit the back porch onto the patio, there’s a covered section enclosed by the fence. The cover section is normally filled with chairs, machinery, garden tools, inflated balls, and tennis rackets; this day was no exception. From the back corner of this enclosed area, there was a scratching sound. If you jostled some things, it would stop for a moment, but ultimately, it continued to scrape for the entirety of the day.

My mother told me to wait until my father came home to investigate. We didn’t know what it was. It could be a rat.

My cousin came home before my dad did that day, and being a rugged farm boy, he grabbed a glove and fished out whatever feral thing was making such incessant scratching noises. When he pulled back his hand, we found a baby squirrel.

It was absolutely adorable, and absolutely terrified of us. The poor thing had been trapped somehow in the fence, and my cousin had rescued it. Mom quickly grabbed an empty fish tank so we could hold him until my dad came home.

We intended to release him outside of the fence, so he wouldn’t get stuck again. However, when we’d finally given our tearful goodbyes to Hammy (a reference to Over the Hedge), he didn’t leave. He instead padded after my cousin, his savior.

My cousin, being a rugged farm boy, told Hammy to “git”, but the squirrel didn’t listen, choosing to crawl on him instead.

Since Hammy wouldn’t leave, we got him a pampered three-level home with the door set for him to come and go as he pleased. We fed him acorns and nuts and corn (if I remember correctly). For months, we had a pet squirrel on our residence who was quite content to be touched or to perch on your shoulder.

One morning, my mother went out to greet Hammy. He climbed out the door, jumped onto her shoulder, bit her ear, and darted away, never to be seen again. Mom said he had reached his teenage years.

Any time we saw a squirrel for years after, we would greet him as Hammy. We’re sure he’s still out there, somewhere.

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